Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Big big thank you to Nick Nixon for running for EducAid

A couple of weeks ago, cousin Nick Nixon, egged on by his sister in law, Lucy, took to the streets and ran a half marathon to raise money for EducAid.  In his words:

There was a combination of factors which inspired me to take part in the Half Marathon and raise money for EducAid. Firstly, I have huge admiration for the work EducAid does and wanted to do something which raised awareness of the charity within my own circle of friends as well as raise some money for it. I was inspired by the charitable actions I hear about through work and from friends and had previously undertaken similar, but less strenuous activities. I wanted to do something that would stretch myself physically, as I was also motivated by wanting to lose weight, but without pushing myself beyond the realms of what I was likely to be able to achieve. Having completed the half marathon and reached my fundraising target (and not quite my weight-loss one) I am keen to take on another challenge and raise even more for EducAid.
I should add, I had bleated on to friends and family for years about doing something (Procrastination would be my middle name if I could be bothered to change it!) but it is largely thanks to Lucy who joined me in the half marathon, that I actually signed up to do it.

Many thanks Nick and many thanks Lucy and many thanks too to all those who sponsored Nick!

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Achieving their potential step by step

The new head girl and head boy
addressing the assembly after their induction.
Jaminatu Morie joined EducAid via the Women's Project, our catch up education programme for secondary age girls who have not been allowed to go to school properly previously.  She had been out of school for some time and was unsure of how she would every complete her education.

It is hard to mention Jami without making reference to her height because she is tiny but please don't let that mislead you!  I first took notice of her when she was addressing the whole school assembly a couple of years ago. She may be small but she does not have small dreams or small ideas nor does she lack any forthrightness in her ability to present them. She is a very impressive young woman.

STG (Stop The Gang!) has been with EducAid since he came visiting from the city dump with a view to finding stuff to nick and sell.  After several encounters with staff and students he decided to give education a shot instead.  While it was touch and go for a while whether he could really leave the street behind, it is some time now since he has been determined that he would get an education and become a man of integrity.

Last week, the students in Lumley held elections and Jaminatu was elected Head Girl and STG was elected Head Boy.  On Friday they were inducted and invited to address the whole school.

Overcoming poverty, taking hold of and forging their own future, both of these excellent young people are achieving their potential one step at a time.  Congratulations to them both!

We are very proud of them and wish them every success this year as they play this important role in the school and in the future as they reach for higher and higher goals.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to

Aminata Fofanah (20) RIP

Magbeni Village -
Home for many years of Aminata Fofanah and her grandmother, Rugiatu Jah
Aminata Fofanah, past pupil of Magbeni and Lumley from some years ago and grand-daughter of the nurse in Magbeni, Rugie Jah, had recently come back to school in Lumley.  At twenty, she had decided that while she might have mixed things up a little earlier on in her life, she was ready now to give her education a real push and to complete her senior secondary studies.  She had been back in Lumley for just over one month when she fell ill with intense stomach pains.  The next day this became so serious that she was taken to hospital and the following day, after struggling for her life on oxygen for a few hours, she died with a diagnosis of typhoid malaria.
Mamie Jah lost her grandson a matter of months ago and has now lost a very beloved grand-daughter.  Indeed it was Mamie Jah who had been a key player in encouraging Ami to go back to school and had taken full responsibility for Ami's son. She is now, needless to say, completely devastated.
The Magbeni community are feeling battered with the number of deaths they have experienced recently as is the whole EducAid family.
We who remain commit ourselves once again, to live our lives well in the memory of those who have gone so needlessly before their time.  We commit to fight the causes of the poverty and vulnerability that makes these deaths possible in all the ways we can.  We start with our commitment to the real education of as many young people as possible.
If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Engineers Without Borders - UK sending a volunteer to EducAid

A few years ago, Rose Atkinson was attending Sherborne Girls School.  Rose heard about EducAid first at a talk at her school.  It rang bells therefore when she saw a volunteer position advertised by EWB-UK to come and work with us for a while.
David O'Donnell has worked hard for several months putting together a proposal, getting it past the security panel, getting it past the technical team etc etc and has finally recruited Rose to come and work with EducAid for 3 months from September to December.
Having now finished her degree and masters studies as an engineer, Rose is looking to put her knowledge to good use.  Rose will work with some of our young engineers: Juldeh Barrie, who has finished his Engineering degree from Fourah Bay College, Gassim Sillah, Emmanuel Gbondo etc who are currently undergoing their degree studies and some of the younger ones still working their way up.
The purpose of her visit is firstly to do an assessment of the various engineering type problems on the sites of the schools we run e.g. water and sanitation, sustainable energy sources, ICT solutions etc and secondly, she will be working with the staff and students to put together an engineering course.
We are really hoping we can get an Engineering and Technology for the Tropics course together. We are looking for an accrediting body that will give it a valuable and credible status and are excited at the possibilities.
Thank you David O'Donnell for all your hard work.
Thank you Rose for being willing to come out and support our development in this way.
If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to

Monday, May 12, 2014

'Education is a privilege not a right.'

We will not be held down.  We will keep climbing!
'Education is a privilege not a right.'
So said, President Momoh a quarter of a century ago.  It was not the only cause of the war but it has to be viewed as a significant contributor to the readiness of so many youngsters feeling unfulfilled and marginalised and thus ready to take up arms when the opportunity came to take control of something for once.
Last year, the University of Sierra Leone doubled the fees for most of its courses and in addition, the Minister has recently decided that no student may apply to sit the WASSCE (West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination) unless he / she has a pass mark at BECE from at least 4 years before.
More years at school means more school fees but it does not mean more young people getting an education and good qualifications.
At EducAid, we are not in the habit of giving up, however frustrated we may be by the situation we find ourselves in so, we are trying to find ways of giving access to education to as many as we can.
Firstly, our teacher training programme continues and we are seeking funding to expand it and reach even more teachers so they can deliver the quality of education that enables their students to pass their exams (revolutionary here - believe me!)
Secondly, we are starting to find ways of delivering our own tertiary level courses at reasonable prices.
We now have 3000+ school children in our care.  At £1,500 + a year per person for four years, how many can we help get to degree level when they reach that stage?  Probably not many.
At £50 - £100 a year it will be a whole lot more possible for a whole lot more of them.
This year, we have started a Leadership Certificate course that we plan to build up to become a degree course in Leadership and Management.  The University of Makeni are very keen to partner with us and accredit this course which makes it possible for us to just get on and do the work.
We are also looking at doing the same thing in Tropical Engineering and Technology, if we can find a way of getting it accredited.  If we can offer a range of tertiary level courses ourselves, we can break down some of the barriers to access. We can also ensure the credibility and integrity of the courses and ensure that our young people come out with qualifications of value, not just pieces of pretty paper!
Thank you for the support of my fellow lecturers and course facilitators: Emily Brotherton, Ann Beatty, Manfred Pearce and Professor Joel Marrant.  This is the beginning of yet another exciting EducAid journey.
If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to